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Sylvia Young Theatre School

Full Time School

Academic Overview

The Sylvia Young Theatre School has high expectations of students academically as well as vocationally and places considerable emphasis on the academic curriculum.

Our aim is for all students to have a wide range of academic options open to them when they leave SYTS at the end of year 11 if they decide to pursue an academic pathway either alongside, or instead of, further vocational training. 

All students are expected to take GCSE examinations in eight or nine subjects. There is the opportunity to study triple science, a language and a humanities subject to GCSE which enables students to progress to a wide range of ‘A’ level subjects and degree courses.

In recent years, we have had students move on sixth forms at a significant number of highly regarded selective academic schools and colleges, and after this to a wide range of courses at Russell Group universities, including Oxford, King's College London, Bristol and Exeter.

Year 6

Year 6 are based in their own classroom with their academic class teacher, who is a primary specialist, for most of their academic lessons. This provides a secure base for the students in order to ease them into a secondary school environment. The class teacher gets to know the students very well and can ensure that students of a wide range of ability are appropriately challenged and supported in their academic studies. 

Year 6 are taught by secondary subject specialists, in specialist rooms, for Art and ICT. Other specialist areas include Coding and an introduction to Languages. 

Our Year 6 students make the transition to the year 7 academic curriculum very easily, and they are not daunted by the prospect of moving on to ‘secondary school’ when they finish Year 6.

Years 7 - 9

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Humanities
  • Art
  • ICT
  • Spanish

Years 10 - 11 (GCSE years)

In Year 10 and 11 students work towards achieving their GCSE qualifications. Following on from the experience of Year 9 our school offers all students a broad and balanced curriculum in Year 10 and 11 that develops their intellectual curiosity and subject expertise with a set of GCSEs that is both stimulating, engaging and offers a sound foundation for further study. Our curriculum intent is to be ambitious, challenging and inspire students to have high aspirations, discover new talents and achieve their full potential.

Our subject experts ensure we meet the needs of the whole person by ensuring the highest possible standards in education. The impact of our curriculum is that it prepares students not only to be highly successful academically and vocationally, but also to be ready for the next stage of their life journey. 

What GCSEs do students have to take?

All students will study 9 subjects at GCSE.

The GCSE Options booklet for students starting in Year 10 in 2024 - 2025 can be viewed here. 

Maths, English and Science are the core subjects everyone must take at GCSE in England and Wales. English Language is compulsory in all schools and so is English Literature in the majority of schools in England. 

All are expected to take the following core subjects at Sylvia Young Theatre School: 

  • English Language and English Literature
  • Maths
  • Science
  • Drama is also a core compulsory subject in our school. 

Science is split into three separate sciences (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) and all students study all three GCSE qualifications. 

What are the optional subjects?

Students can then choose another two subjects from the following range:

  • Art
  • History
  • Media Studies
  • Music 
  • Spanish 

Choosing GCSE options is a great opportunity for students to think about what they might like to do in the future. 

Exam Boards



Art Pearson
Drama AQA
English Language AQA
English Literature AQA
History AQA
Maths Pearson
Media Studies Eduqas
Music Pearson
Science OCR
Spanish AQA



PSHCE and RSHE is delivered through the programme for form time, through assemblies, visiting speakers, and as an integral part of the curriculum across all academic subjects.

Careers Education is delivered as part of PSHCE as well as through specific careers talks to individual year groups. In years 10 & 11, this includes visits by staff from a range of vocational and academic colleges to give talks to, and run workshops for, the students to assist them in choosing their post-16 pathway and preparing for auditions.


At the Sylvia Young Theatre School, the interests, ideas and strengths of the students are accommodated within a structured yet flexible Art curriculum. At KS2&3 students explore a range of mediums including painting, drawing, printmaking, ceramics and 3D. The department aims to provide students with the necessary skills and confidence to fulfil their creative ideas.

GCSE option students follow the Edexcel Fine Art course. Students are encouraged to draw on their personal experience, with emphasis on direct observation. First-hand experience of artwork is encouraged, and we endeavour to take students to at least one relevant exhibition during the course. Students develop skills in painting, drawing and 3D and are gradually given greater independence in selecting mediums, styles and influences that are of personal interest.


Academic drama in Year 9 creates a foundation for GCSE, introducing students to the various styles, genres and Practitioners within the discipline. As well as learning the terminology and meanings, students develop their analytical and evaluative skills. Furthermore, theatre as a venue, occupation, production and history is explored and embraced as part of the drama curriculum.

Students follow the AQA examination board curriculum in Years 10 and 11; refining their performance skills across a variety of styles and genres, by devising their own work and performing the work of accomplished playwrights. Students are taught to recognise and select the skills that create an engaging and meaningful performance.

Students are encouraged to understand and explore all aspects of production, and learn through the process of making, performing and responding. Students experience a variety of live professional performances over the course and learn to analyse and evaluate their own work and that of others.


Students in years 6-9 study music as part of their vocational studies. They will cover coursework designed to advance their listening awareness through aural training and be made aware of the important rudiments of music, including notation, instrumentation and structures in music.

They will learn about the physics of sound and the technology used in sound recording as well as appreciating music from different cultures and periods, always in relation to the listening process.


Students who wish to study music to a more advanced level are able to choose Music GCSE as an option. This will particularly suit those who are hoping to study A Level Music or those for whom composition may be part of a professional future.

Apart from the quite intense academic study of music, students will learn to navigate Cubase software on Mac computers to advance their knowledge of modern recording methods.

The school currently follows the Edexcel syllabus.


The ICT department has two computer suites fully equipped with Apple Mac workstations, and a mobile unit of 30 Apple iPads for use in any academic classroom.

ICT is taught through specific topic areas of the Key Stage 2 and 3 curriculum.
Students use a broad range of software and programming applications, such as; MS Office, HTML, BBC Microbit (Javascript and Python) Photoshop, Audacity, Premier Pro and Cubase programs.

All students are encouraged to use new technology wherever they can to solve specific problems.


Science is taught at the Sylvia Young Theatre School to a standard that is inclusive of all pupils. Students experience different approaches to teaching to allow full access to the curriculum.

Lessons are taught in modern science laboratories using a range of multimedia resources that are presented through a data projector. Classes include a variety of audio and visual stimulation and various kinaesthetic activities that promote learning and are in keeping with the inspirational ethos of the school.

The aim of all science lessons is not only to allow pupils to further their understanding of the world around them, but to also stimulate and encourage pupils to discuss, formulate and advance their own thoughts and ideas.

Students follow an enjoyable KS2/KS3 science curriculum which fully prepares them for GCSE Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Assessment is by end of unit test or project and students receive regular feedback in line with the school marking policy. 

All students study science at KS4 following the triple science OCR GCSE 21st Century Science course. The course leads to  three GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

Students are prepared for the exams by regular in-class assessments, exam technique feedback throughout the three years and intensive revision sessions throughout Year 11.



In the course of a year, all pupils in all years will study poetry, novels, short stories, plays and one Shakespeare play in line with National Curriculum requirements.

Pupils will be set homework on what they have studied in class every week. This will often be written work. For example, either preparation of essays or the final essays themselves, and will sometimes be revision of topics and their own private reading. Assessment is given weekly via a written comment in their books focusing on ‘What Went Well’ and ‘Even Better If’. More formal assessment occurs every six weeks with a substantial piece of work which we refer to as a ‘Formative Assessment Task’. Accurate spelling and punctuation is a must, as is an appropriate style.

Alongside this, we have a fervent culture of reading in the school and encourage a lively personal reading habit to run alongside their formal English studies. All students will receive a library card to use our excellently resourced and managed library and will be given reading lists to accompany their studies. There will also be times when they read books together a form group and one 15 minute form-time a week will be put aside solely for silent reading.


At KS4, students will have five English lessons each week.  During lessons, we will cover a range of texts and topics which will all contribute towards final English Language and English Literature grades.  At the end of the course, students will be awarded TWO separate GCSEs; one for English Language and one for English Literature. We follow the AQA syllabus,full details of which can be found here: Click here


Media Studies is an exciting and relevant subject that looks at the role and impact of the mass media in our society.
At Sylvia Young Theatre School, GCSE Media Studies students analyse how media products like TV programmes and music videos use images, sounds, language, and representations to create meaning. They learn about the media industry and how the industry affects how media products are made. Students investigate media audiences, exploring who are the people who watch, read and consume the products, and consider how different people might be affected by media products differently, and why. Students study a variety of media forms, such as newspapers, TV, advertising & marketing, magazines, radio, video games, music, websites, social media and film.

In their practical work, students apply what they’ve learnt about the media in the production of their own media products.


The Humanities programme at the Sylvia Young Theatre School covers a broad spectrum. 
The History component covers the period from prehistory to 1945, with special topics focusing on the Roman Empire, the Medieval World, Islamic Civilization, British social and political history 1500-1945, the Renaissance, the French Revolution, the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions, and Europe 1900-1945. GCSE History focuses on Germany 1890-1945, Conflict and Tension 1919-1939, Elizabethan England 1558-1603,and Power and the People (the development of democracy from the Middle Ages to the Present).

The Humanities programme integrates other disciplines. Geography covers both Human and Physical geography: the structure of the Earth; how environments have shaped human life and how humans have shaped environments. Students focus on particular continents and countries in order to understand different aspects of the subject - for example, Africa, focussing on Kenya in Y7,and Asia, focussing on China in Y8.

Religious studies focus on different types of belief and the ways in which beliefs affect cultures and ethics. Students look at the great world religions, beginning with the three main monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and then proceed to study one of these in greater depth.


The Mathematics department aims to:

  • Allow each student to develop his or her full potential in Mathematics;
  • Raise the levels of students’ self-esteem and self-efficacy in this subject area;
  • Nurture a sense of interest and enjoyment for Mathematics and other related work.


Students are split into two ability sets at the start of year seven. Half-term testing and general in-class assessments provide on ongoing information, that allows the department to monitor individual students and ensure that they are in the correct group for their current learning needs. The full Key Stage Three Mathematics Curriculum is covered by both sets.

The department uses the CGP Mathematics for Key Stage Three Textbooks as well as supporting materials from the internet and other sources.


Both groups are taught the HIGHER GCSE Syllabus (EDEXCEL exam board) and the final selection as to which paper each individual student will sit is not taken until after the final Mock Examinations, in January of Year Eleven.
The department uses the Collins GCSE Mathematics textbooks (4th edition)

Useful Websites:



Spanish is a popular subject taught to all students in years 7, 8 and 9.

Our aim is to make the subject engaging and interesting. Students will acquire an awareness of Spanish and Latin American culture.

The four language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing are taught and practised in each lesson; students are assessed on these four key areas. Activities are chosen which promote the use of the target language. Grammar plays an important role in the teaching of the language and vocabulary tests are given regularly.

Students are taught in mixed ability groups. Assessments are fully differentiated.
Mira  1, 2 and 3  are the textbooks used for KS3.